BUILDING THE DREAM
DEBUT U.S Solo show CHICAGO
Featuring a site specific installation along with a series of paintings, drawings and prints inspired by descriptions of Chicago from the 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Toward the end of the 19th century, many buildings in Chicago had to be raised on jack screws to prevent them sinking into the mud. Raising these buildings inadvertently created a maze of alleyways below the city. Originally home to rats, this “underworld,” as it became known, was the perfect breeding ground for organized crime.
Upon my arrival in Chicago i visited some antique shops looking for anything vice related from the 19th century. I spent the following week cutting up wine boxes and beer crates to build a model of this Underworld. I then took sections of it down to the actual location of an infamous vice den called Under the Willow which was run by a Yorkshire Man named Roger Plant who is seen as Chicago’s first criminal empire boss. This den of iniquity was located on the corner of Wells and Monroe in The loop of Chicago and became one of the most infamous resorts in the whole of the U.S. What fascinated me was Roger Plant is said to have wrote the slogan Why Not? all over the window shades of his Brothel. This was graffiti in 1860s!!! and it was this discovery that persuaded me to delve deeper into this murkey rat infested underworld to produce a show in Chicago about Chicago. Why Not?
Based on a true story, this show was inspired by the book “The Outfit,” by Gus Russo, in which he describes pre-fire Chicago and its underworld so well. Building The Dream is my interpretation of these descriptions—visualizing this sepia-toned world full of sinister optimism.
1016 N Western Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60622